11 January 2007

Wesley and Simeon: daggers at noon?

by Dan Phillips

As the world prepares itself to hear Phil's haec dixit Philippus (watch—someone's going to be offended at that), some words from Charles Simeon seem to fit our current discussion well. In his talk on Simeon, John Piper says that Simeon
had little sympathy for uncharitable Calvinists. In a sermon on Romans 9:16, he said, "Many there are who cannot see these truths [the doctrines of God's sovereignty], who yet are in a state truly pleasing to God; yea many, at whose feet the best of us may be glad to be found in heaven. It is a great evil, when these doctrines are made a ground of separation one from another, and when the advocates of different systems anathematize each other. . . . In reference to truths which are involved in so much obscurity as those which relate to the sovereignty of God mutual kindness and concession are far better than vehement argumentation and uncharitable discussion" (Horae Homileticae, Vol. 15, p. 357).
Then Piper relates "how [Simeon] lived out this counsel is seen in the way he conversed with the elderly John Wesley. He tells the story himself:"

Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?


What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (Moule, 79f)

To this, I add nothing.

Dan Phillips's signature


Robert Fraire said...

I do consider myself a Calvinist, 5-point down the line. And I don't think that the Chan video was great, nor do I think it was heretical. The arguments I read in the comments had to do with whether a complete gospel message was presented, whether the consumer of the video would properly understand the gospel message and whether it was proper to illustrate God as being on his knee 'begging' for people to accept him.
I really didn't see anything that struck me as over the top High Calvinism.
So why this post about uncharitable Calvinists? I infer from its timing and the words about Phil, that this post is linked to the other recent posts and comments concerning the video. What fights with Arminians were started here? Where did someone say that Arminians weren't Christians?

In my humble opinion there has been a little bit of overreaction to what I feel were, for the most part, reasonable objections to aspects of the video.

I am in NO way looking for a fight here. God Bless!

Patrick H. said...

Great post!! Very edifiying, and centering upon that which is of importance.

Rileysowner said...

Once again, an excellent post. Thank-you for this.

Where we agree is we are all sinners with no hope except for Christ's righteousness received by God's grace. I think I always need to be reminded of that.

Unknown said...

Simeon preached:
>Many there are who cannot see >these truths [the doctrines of >God's sovereignty], who yet are >in a state truly pleasing to God.

Simeon was wrong.

Unknown said...

>Where did someone say that >Arminians weren't Christians?

Unfortunately, this is the leap made by some against those who would dare suggest that Arminian theology is unbiblical.

It *is* possible to take a third way: Arminians are both unbiblical and Christians. Where I see a lack of discernment with some of the so-called Calvinists of our day, is that consideration of Arminians as Christians must mean we have to play nice when it comes to their theology. Or that we have to play nice when someone who is supposedly a Calvinist employs Arminian theology and methods.

BTW... James White tackles the Chan video on today's dividing line.

James Scott Bell said...

Perhaps not you, Dan, but one wonders if Wesley would like to add a word or two! One can excuse Simeon for a bit of selectivity and perhaps hopefulness in this well known account with the famous evangelist. There are places where we would have liked further clarification. For example, a true Arminian would never say we are saved by our own “works.” That does not, however, militate against conditional election. Certainly, Wesley’s preaching and writing immediately thereafter demonstrate his Arminian bona fides, in teaching for example that the Holy Spirit may be resisted, etc. But he was certainly no Pelagian, in any form, and truly upheld the initiatory grace of God in everything.

Interestingly, Wesley makes note of this meeting in his own journal, but not of this bit of conversation. He is quite complimentary to Simeon, who in zeal reminds him John Fletcher! That’s the true ticket here. We should glory when the gospel is preached and in the results, as in the lives of Wesley and Whitfield.

Terry Rayburn said...


Can you point to any New Covenant Scripture that would indicate that a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, who is not a Calvinist, would *not* be in a "state truly pleasing to God"?

For you would then be saying that those who are "justified"; made "the righteousness of God in Christ"; "made perfect"; "sanctified"; "set apart"; who "love God and are the called according to His purpose"; have the gift of "faith"; and are "in Christ [with Whom the Father is well-pleased]"; etc., etc...are not in a state pleasing to God...just because they are not 5-point Calvinists like you and I?

Unknown said...

>Can you point to any New Covenant >Scripture that would indicate >that a born-again believer in >Jesus Christ, who is not a >Calvinist, would *not* be in >a "state truly pleasing to God"?

"If anyone's work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like and esacpe through fire". Obviously, Paul has two categories of *states*... that which is not pleasing to God (work that is burned up) and that which is pleasing to God (he will be saved). ____ insert myriad of Paul's arguments against false teaching/erroneous living.

If Simeon is speaking of the temporal state, he is wrong. If Simeon is speaking of that eternal state and our union in Christ, then he (and you) are right.

And.... it never fails that when some of us begin pointing out the inherent compromise of the gospel in non-lordship/Arminian theology, someone drags out of the closet the Wesley quote... as if Wesley's sentiment about his friend should temper our polemic against error.

Unknown said...

I should have said "Whitefield" quote.

Terry Rayburn said...


I'm afraid your original contention has led you even further astray from the simple fact that God is pleased with His children, by virtue of the work of Christ, and the work He has done in the New Creation.

Paul's point, about works being burned up while the person is saved, is making the exact point that one's performance is not the issue in one's "pleasing state" before God...exactly the opposite of what you are bending it to mean.

Not to mention...

Are you then contending that the works of someone who is not a 5-point Calvinist will de facto be burned up?

Craig Schwarze said...

I find it hard to reconcile Wesley's answers with his doctrine of preveniant grace.

I'm not looking for unnecessary fights. But I'm convinced that the most significant dividing line through Christianity is monergism vs synergism. We must extend great charity to synergists, but also stand firm on the dotrinal distinctives.

James Scott Bell said...


"But I'm convinced that the most significant dividing line through Christianity is monergism vs synergism."

We have to more fully define these extra-biblical terms, for they are not by themselves precise. Synergism may be Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, or evangelistic (as in classic Arminianism). The first two are clearly errors. The latter is, if I may be so bold, not. I would agree that SP is widespread today, as is much sloppy theology, and would oppose it along with you.

Terry, you are a most gracious poster.

Craig Schwarze said...

JSB, there is a point of difference between us - I regard synergistic evangelicalism as most certainly an error. I don't deny such people are saved - but I beileve their doctrine is significantly flawed.

I have spent several years in synergistic churches, and I firmly believe it affects all parts of life and practice. I believe it can be quite destructive.

I don't want to throw these people out of the kingdom - I want to present monergism as attractively as possible to win them across.

The reformed/monergists are not without fault, of course. The charge that we are not evangelistic has all too often been true. I have no sympathy at all for those monergists who sit in their tiny churches waiting for God to bring the elect in. That is not the religion of the Bible.

But a convinced monergist with an evangelistic zeal is unstoppable...

Unknown said...

Terry wrote:
>Paul's point, about works being >burned up while the person is >saved, is making the exact point >that one's performance is not the >issue in one's "pleasing state" >before God...exactly the opposite >of what you are bending it to mean.

I do not believe the above to be Paul's point at all. We will have to agree to disagree.

It's both/and, not either/or.

>Are you then contending that the >works of someone who is not a 5->point Calvinist will de facto be >burned up?

I believe those works done in doctrinal error have a high possibility of being "burned up".

Unknown said...

Craigs wrote:
>I regard synergistic >evangelicalism as most certainly >an error.

James White, on his "Dividing Line" today in discussing the Chan video, makes this point that is very true about your above point. "What we win them with is what we win them to." Synergism in evangelism most certainly is connected to synergism in soteriology. If we insist on the former, we cannot insist on anything other than the latter.

From the offer of the gospel to our glorification in heaven it is ALL monergism.

James Scott Bell said...

Yes, Criags, we do have a difference, and that's okay by me so long as we are clear on the specifics, and do not depend on faulty definitions.

"But a convinced monergist with an evangelistic zeal is unstoppable..."

Ditto the convinced Arminian who truly upholds the sovereignty of God!

Onward, brother.

Sharon said...

"What we win them with is what we win them to."

That's the most profound statement I've heard in this discussion so far!

donsands said...

I have many Non-reformed friends and co-laborers in Christ.
They sometimes call me a flaming Calvinist, and I may send some sarcasm their way at times.

There have been heated discussions, and yet we serve the Lord on these 5 points:

By faith alone,
through grace alone,
through Christ alone,
by Scripture alone,
and for the glory of God alone.

We study and debate the Word of God, and it can become heated at times.
I thank the Lord for these brothers in Christ. And we truly do serve together.

Who knows how the grace of God will work upon their hearts.
I know that it did mine, a few years back in my Non-reformed days, when I bumped into a Reformed brother, who now is my business partner.

Little by little the Word of God washed over my heart, and the grace of God became more and more precious, and my deeds became more and more filthy.
I finally realized I was chosen by His grace, and that I had nothing whatsoever to do with my being rescued from the darkness of a sinful and rebellious heart and life.
Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, came to seek me out and save me. God determined to do this before the foundations of this world.

This was a fine post. I was very blessed by the quote from Charles Simeon. Thanks.

donsands said...


I believe that came from James Boice originally; but not certain.

Craig Schwarze said...

I am not interested in demonising arminians. I want to win them over to a better understanding of the Bible, and the way to do that is to show them the beauty and power of monergism.

JSB, it is clear to me that Arminians are synergists, so I'm not sure what the distinction is you are making.

As far as whether Arminians are semi-pelagians - I think the case can be made that they are. But I'm not going to argue over a fairly obscure label.

Jon Earls said...

Actually it was Wesley who said he would not see Whitefield in heaven because Whitefield would be closer to the throne - not the other way around.

~Mark said...

Amen to a heart striking post

Highland Host said...

Wesleyan Arminianism, as taught by Wesley, is a strange beast. Conditional election (the condition being foreseen faith) and a universal atonement are joined to original sin and substitutionary atonement. Perhaps it is for this reason Packer calls the Wesleys 'confused Calvinists'.

In my experience a truly gracious Arminian will ascribe all his salvation to the grace of God when that position is actually incompatible with his declared beliefs! Why? His 'old man' is an Arminian, but his 'new man' is a Calvinist!

Al said...

OK Chan's video was not perfect. Edwards would never surf I am sure. But there there is one thing greater than faith and hope and this pastor seemed to major on the major.

What I marvel at is when someone takes the Gospel and turns it into a formula. Did you mention the resurrection? No? Sorry, no gospel there.

Makes me want to go listen to a N.T. Wright sermon.

Al sends

Unknown said...

It's obvious Simeon is capturing the essence of Christian charity and loving bonds within the family of believers. Whitefield understood this too.

While God is not pleased with doctrinal error, he is also not pleased when true believers completely disassociate with one another. To find no grounds of fellowship with a true brother or sister in Christ is positive sin.

A true Christian, whether he be Calvinist or Arminian, stands now in the sight of God with "no condemnation" and "reconciled" unto God through Christ Jesus. God is not pleased with him who despises one bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Doug said...

What I marvel at is when someone takes the Gospel and turns it into a formula. Did you mention the resurrection? No? Sorry, no gospel there.

Actually, I think it was the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 that included the resurrection as a vital part of the the gospel.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

Al said...

Doug, I am not talking about what is contained in the gospel, in all its glorious fullness. But the bible calls it "preaching the gospel" or "receiving the gospel" when elements of it are preached or received. The eunuch in acts 8 may be one example. Paul in bringing the Galatians to task does not mention the resurrection once yet says that Abraham believed the gospel message of "In you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed."

So, can someone say, "You should not spurn the love of God. Repent and believe that Christ died for you?" and be preaching the gospel? I think so.

Patrick H. said...

Here's an interesting tidbit about John Wesley. He atributed his conversion to when he heard the introduction to Martin Luther's Commentary on Romans at a meeting at Aldersgate.

James Scott Bell said...

Perhaps Packer is an "inchoate Arminian"! There is nothing within Arminianism that is any "stranger a beast" than the well known "antinomy" of Calvinism. As Grudem says, "We cannot understand our doctrine fully." Packer: "It is unavoidable and it is insoluble." And I have no problem with that...it's a legitimate (though I think ultimately misplaced) way for Calvinists to deal with the Scriptural data.

John H said...

That is a great exchange between Simeon and Wesley.

I think it was JI Packer who also said, as regards John Wesley, that he was an Arminian except for whenever he found himself speaking before a field full of sinners.

And then there's that marvellous quote from "Rabbi" Duncan, reading the verse in "And can it be" about "...my chains fell off, my heart was free..." and saying, "Where's your Arminianism now, friend?"

Chris Duncan said...

Chan is saying that some whom God loves go to hell. The Reformed people are more sophisticated than those like Chan when they talk of two different kinds of love (saving and general). They say, "God loves everybody, but He loves the elect in a special way." Does this not profane Ephesians 5:25? How wicked it would be for a husband to say to his wife, "I love all the other women in the world and desire that they be married to me, but I have a special love for you"!

donsands said...


"I love all the other women of the world and desire to be married to them , but I have a special love for you."
Sounds like something Solomon would say.

I have one question for you. How do you interpret Christ's love for this unregenerate man.

"Then Jesus beholding him loved [agapao] him, and said to him, 'one thing you lack': ... And he was sad and went away grieved: for he was rich. ....
Jesus said to them, 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God'." Mark 10:21-25

Adrian Warnock said...

You might forgive me for mentioning that Logos hope to make the 21 volumes of this guys sermons available again. Pop over to my site for more information.

Test All Things said...

Naked & Unashamed - John Wesley Exposes Himself
Naked and Unashamed:
John Wesley Exposes Himself

“It has also been suggested, that ‘Mr. Wesley is a very laborious man;’ not more laborious, I presume, than a certain active being, who is said to go to and fro in the earth, and walk up and down in it: nor yet more laborious, I should imagine, than certain ancient Sectarians, concerning whom it was long ago said, ‘Woe unto you Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte:’ … Mr. Sellon, moreover, reminds me (p. 128) that, ‘while the shepherds are quarrelling, the wolf gets into the sheep fold;’ not impossible: but it so happens that the present quarrel is not among ‘the shepherds,’ but with the ‘wolf’ himself; which ‘quarrel’ is warranted by every maxim of pastoral meekness and fidelity.” (Augustus Toplady, Complete Works, p. 54)

Over the course of John Wesley’s long life, he not only preached to countless thousands but also published 151 sermons, his journals, his “Notes On The Scriptures,” and many books and pamphlets. He also published fourteen volumes of The Arminian Magazine from 1778-1791. By 1834, 43 years after Wesley’s death in 1791, the Wesleyan-Methodists numbered just over a million, and many millions of professing Christians today count Wesley as their spiritual forefather. He also seems to have had an immense “softening” effect on the spirit of so-called “Calvinism,” encouraging multitudes of “Calvinists” to blunt the “sharper edges” of their doctrine. Wesley made no conscious attempt to hide or obscure his views. He made no attempt to pass himself off as a Calvinist, as Jacob Arminius had done. He made no attempt to deny the legitimate implications of his views. A candid review of his own published works will clearly reveal how heretical his views really were. Any true Christian will see that Wesley was not saved. This article will show some of what Wesley believed from his own words.

[All quotes are from The Works of John Wesley (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI (1996); Format: (Volume: Page). For the sake of readability, the quotes are not set off by quotation marks.]

Baptismal Regeneration

That are the benefits we receive by baptism, is the next point to be considered. And the first of these is, the washing away the guilt of original sin, by the application of the merits of Christ’s death. … By baptism, we who were “by nature children of wrath” are made the children of God. And this regeneration which our Church in so many places ascribes to baptism is more than barely being admitted into the Church, though commonly connected therewith; being “grafted into the body of Christ’s Church, we are made the children of God by adoption and grace.” This is grounded on the plain words of our Lord: “Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John iii. 5.) By water, then, as a means, the water of baptism, we are regenerated or born again; whence it is also called by the Apostle, “the washing of regeneration.” … Herein a principle of grace is infused, which will not be wholly taken away, unless we quench the Holy Spirit by long-continued wickedness. (10:192)

Free Will

Men are as free in believing or not believing as if he [God] did not know it at all. Indeed, if man were not free, he could not be held accountable either for his thoughts, words, or actions. If he were not free, he would not be capable either of reward or punishment; he would be incapable either of virtue or vice, of being either morally good or bad. (6:227)

Were human liberty taken away, men would be as incapable of virtue as stones. Therefore, (with reverence be it spoken,) the Almighty himself cannot do this thing. … Herein appears the depth of the wisdom of God, in his adorable providence; in governing men, so as not to destroy either their understanding, will, or liberty. He commands all things, both in heaven and earth, to assist man in attaining the end of his being, in working out his own salvation, so far as it can be done without compulsion, without over-ruling his liberty. (6:318)

And although I have not an absolute power over my own mind, because of the corruption of my own nature; yet, through the grace of God assisting me, I have a power to choose and do good as well as evil. I am free to choose whom I will serve; and if I choose the better part, to continue therein even unto death. (7:228-229)

The God of love is willing to save all the souls that he has made. … But he will not force them to accept it; he leaves them in the hands of their own counsel …” (7:317)

If you ask, “Why then are not all men saved?” the whole law and the testimony answer, First, Not because of any decree of God; not because it is his pleasure they should die; for, “As I live, saith the Lord God,” “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” (Ezek. xviii. 3, 32.) Whatever be the cause of their perishing, it cannot be his will, if the oracles of God are true; for they declare, “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance;” (2 Pet. iii. 9;) “He willeth that all men should be saved.” … God would save them, but they will not be saved: This is the condemnation, “How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!” (Matt. xxiii. 37.) (7:381)

How is it more for the glory of God to save man irresistibly, than to save him as a free agent, by such grace as he may either concur with or resist? … I shall not now dispute (which might yet be done,) whether salvation by irresistible grace, (which indeed makes man a mere machine, and, consequently, no more rewardable and punishable,) whether, I say, salvation by irresistible grace, considered apart from its consequences, manifest the glory of God more or less than salvation by grace which may be resisted. (10:231-232)


What is then the perfection of which man is capable while he dwells in a corruptible body? It is the complying with that kind command, “My son, give me thy heart.” It is the “loving the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind.” This is the sum of Christian perfection: It is all comprised in that one word, Love. The first branch of it is the love of God: And as he that loves God loves his brother also, it is inseparably connected with the second: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:” Thou shalt love every man as thy own soul, as Christ loved us. “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets:” These contain the whole of Christian perfection. … Agreeably to this is the plain matter of fact. Several persons have enjoyed this blessing, without any interruption, for many years. Several enjoy it to this day. And not a few have enjoyed it unto their death, as they have declared with their latest breath; calmly witnessing that God had saved them from all sin till their spirit returned to God. (6:413-420)

By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient love of God, and our neighbour, ruling our tempers, words, and actions. … As to the manner. I believe this perfection is always wrought in the soul by a simple act of faith; consequently, in an instant. … I believe this instant generally is the instant of death, the moment before the soul leaves the body. But I believe it may be ten, twenty, or forty years before. I believe it is usually many years after justification; but that it may be within five years or five months after it, I know no conclusive argument to the contrary. (11:446)

Inefficacious Atonement

“Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died,” (Rom. xiv. 15,) - a clear proof that Christ died, not only for those that are saved, but also for them that perish: … (7:380-381)

“What! Can the blood of Christ burn in hell? Or can the purchase by the blood of Christ go thither?” I answer, … If the oracles of God are true, one who was purchased by the blood of Christ may go thither. For he that was sanctified by the blood of Christ was purchased by the blood of Christ. But one who was sanctified by the blood of Christ may nevertheless go to hell; may fall under that fiery indignation which shall for ever devour the adversaries. (10:297)

Justification, Perseverance, and Final Glory Conditioned on the Sinner

Many excellent men, who are thoroughly apprized of this, - who are convinced, the wedding garment here mentioned is not to be understood of any qualification for the Lord’s Supper, but of the qualification for glory, - interpret it of the righteousness of Christ; “which,” they say, “is the sole qualification for heaven; this being the only righteousness wherein any man can stand in the day of the Lord. For who,” they ask, “will then dare to appear before the great God, save in the righteousness of his well-beloved Son? Shall we not then at least, if not before, find the need of having a better righteousness than our own? And what other can that be than the righteousness of God our Saviour?” … “We certainly,” says he, “shall need a better righteousness than our own, wherein to stand at the bar of God in the day of judgment.” I do not understand the expression. Is it scriptural? Do we read it in the Bible, either in the Old Testament or the New? … Is there any expression similar to this of the “wedding garment” to be found in Holy Scripture? In the Revelation we find mention of “linen, white and clean, which is the righteousness of the saints.” And this, too, many vehemently contend, means the righteousness of Christ. … Away with such Antinomian jargon! … Does not that expression, “the righteousness of the saints,” point out what is the “wedding garment” in the parable? It is the “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” The righteousness of Christ is doubtless necessary for any soul that enters into glory: But so is personal holiness too, for every child of man. … The former is necessary to entitle us to heaven; the latter to qualify us for it. Without the righteousness of Christ we could have no claim to glory; without holiness we could have no fitness for it. … What, then, is that holiness which is the true “wedding garment,” the only qualification for glory? … It first, through the energy of God, worketh love to God and all mankind; and, by this love, every holy and heavenly temper - in particular, lowliness, meekness, gentleness, temperance, and longsuffering. … In a word, holiness is the having “the mind that was in Christ,” and the “walking as Christ walked. … Choose holiness, by my grace; which is the way, the only way, to everlasting life. He cries aloud, “Be holy, and be happy; happy in this world, and happy in the world to come.” “Holiness becometh his house for ever!” This is the wedding garment of all that are called to “the marriage of the Lamb.” Clothed in this, they will not be found naked: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (7:312-317)

First: The nature of justification. … I believe the condition of this is faith … It is allowed, also, that repentance, and “fruits meet for repentance,” go before faith. (Mark i. 15; Matthew iii. 8.) … Repentance absolutely must go before faith; fruits meet for it, if there be opportunity. (8:46-47)

Q. 2. Is faith the condition of justification? A. Yes; for every one who believeth is not condemned; and every one who believes is justified. Q. 3. But must not repentance, and works meet for repentance, go before this faith? A. Without doubt; if by repentance you mean conviction of sin; and by works meet for repentance, obeying God as far as we can, forgiving our brother, leaving off from evil, doing good, and using his ordinances, according to the power we have received. … Q. 11. Are works necessary to the continuance of faith? A. Without doubt; for a man may forfeit the free gift of God, either by sins of omission or commission. Q. 12. Can faith be lost but for want of works? A. It cannot but through disobedience. (8:275-277)

Q. 12. What is sincerity? A. Willingness to know and do the whole will of God. The lowest species thereof seems to be “faithfulness in that which is little.” Q. 13. Has God any regard to man’s sincerity? A. So far, that no man in any state can possibly please God without it; neither, indeed, in any moment wherein he is not sincere. Q. 14. But can it be conceived that God has any regard to the sincerity of an unbeliever? A. Yes, so much, that, if he persevere therein, God will infallibly give him faith. … Q. 22. But do we not give up faith, and put sincerity in its place, as the condition of our acceptance with God? A. We believe it is one condition of our acceptance, as repentance likewise is. And we believe it a condition of our continuing in a state of acceptance. … Q. 25. What means then, “To him that believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness?” A. That God forgives him that is unrighteous as soon as he believes, accepting his faith instead of perfect righteousness. (8:288-289)

We have received it as a maxim, that “a man is to do nothing in order to justification.” Nothing can be more false. Whoever desires to find favor with God, should “cease from evil, and learn to do well.” So God himself teaches by the prophet Isaiah. Whoever repents, should “do works meet for repentance.” And if this is not in order to find favour, what does he do them for? (8:337)

“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matt. xviii. 35.) So! How? He will retract the pardon he had given, and deliver you to the tormentors. “Why, then you make salvation conditional.” I make it neither conditional nor unconditional. But I declare just what I find in the Bible, neither more nor less; namely, that it is bought for every child of man, and actually given to every one that believeth. If you call this conditional salvation, God made it so from the beginning of the world; … (10:254)

“But is not the faithfulness of God engaged to keep all that now believe from falling away?” I cannot say that. … Those who are branches of Christ, the true vine, may yet finally fall from grace. … It remains, that true believers, who are branches of the true vine, may nevertheless finally fall. … Those who so effectually know Christ, as by that knowledge have escaped the pollutions of the world, may yet fall back into those pollutions, and perish everlastingly. (10:242-247)

On this authority, I believe a saint may fall away; that one who is holy or righteous in the judgment of God himself may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly. … One who is endued with the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly. … Those who are grafted into the good olive-tree, the spiritual, invisible Church, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly. … “But how then is God faithful?” I answer, In fulfilling every promise which he hath made, to all to whom it is made, all who fulfil the condition of that promise. … Yet, notwithstanding all this, unless you fulfil the condition, you cannot attain the promise. … “But many promises are absolute and unconditional.” In many, the condition is not expressed. But this does not prove, there is none implied. … “But there is no condition, either expressed or implied, in those words of St. Paul: ‘I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’” (Romans viii. 38. 39.) Suppose there is not, (which will bear a dispute,) yet what will this prove? Just thus much, - that the Apostle was at that time fully persuaded of his own perseverance. And I doubt not, but many believers at this day have the very same persuasion, termed in Scripture, “The full assurance of hope.” But this does not prove that every believer shall persevere, any more than that every believer is thus fully persuaded of his perseverance. … Those who are branches of the true vine, of whom Christ says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly. … “But if so, then farewell all my comfort.” My comfort stands not on any opinion, either that a believer can or cannot fall away, not on the remembrance of anything wrought in me yesterday, but on what is to-day; … Those who live by faith may yet fall from God, and perish everlastingly. … Those who are sanctified by the blood of the covenant may so fall from God as to perish everlastingly. … “Can a child of God go to hell? Or can a man be a child of God to-day, and a child of the devil to-morrow? If God is our Father once, is he not our Father always?” I answer, (1.) A child of God, that is, a true believer, (for he that believeth is born of God,) while he continues a true believer, cannot go to hell. But, (2.) If a believer make shipwreck of the faith, he is no longer a child of God. And then he may go to hell, yea, and certainly will, if he continues in unbelief. (3.) If a believer may make shipwreck of the faith, then a man that believes now may be an unbeliever some time hence; yea, very possibly, to-morrow; but, if so, he who is a child of God to-day, may be a child of the devil to-morrow. For, (4.) God is the Father of them that believe, so long as they believe. But the devil is the father of them that believe not, whether they did once believe or no. … those who so effectually know Christ, as by that knowledge to have escaped the pollutions of the world; those who see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, of the witness and of the fruits of the Spirit; those who live by faith in the Son of God; those who are sanctified by the blood of the covenant, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly. (10:285-298)

Yet I believe, (and that without the least self-contradiction,) that final salvation is “by works as a condition.” (10:432)

If, on the other hand, we deny all absolute decrees, and admit only the conditional one, (the same which our blessed Lord hath revealed,) “He that believeth shall be saved;” we must, according to their apprehension, assert salvation by works. We must do this (in a sound sense of the expression,) if we believe the Bible. … It is plain, then, if we affirm, No man is saved by an absolute, unconditional decree, but only by a conditional one; we must expect, all who hold unconditional decrees will say, we teach salvation by works. Let none, therefore, who hold universal redemption be surprised at being charged with this. Let us deny it no more; let us frankly and fairly meet those who advance it upon their own ground. If they charge you with holding salvation by works, answer plainly, “In your sense, I do; for I deny that our final salvation depends upon any absolute, unconditional decree. If, therefore, there be no medium, I do hold salvation by works. (11:494-495)

Conditional Election

In a word, God, looking on all ages, from the creation to the consummation, as a moment, and seeing at once whatever is in the hearts of all the children of men, knows every one that does or does not believe, in every age or nation. Yet what he knows, whether faith or unbelief, is in nowise caused by his knowledge. (6:227)

This decree, whereby “whom God did foreknow, he did predestinate,” was indeed from everlasting; this, whereby all who suffer Christ to make them alive are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God,” … (7:385)

Hatred of Unconditional Election and Reprobation

But if this be so, then is all preaching vain. It is needless to them that are elected; for they, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be saved. … This, then, is a plain proof that the doctrine of predestination is not of God, because it makes void the ordinance of God; and God is not divided against himself. A Second is, that it directly tends to destroy holiness which is the end of all the ordinances of God. … the doctrine itself, - that every man is either elected or not elected from eternity, and that the one must inevitably be saved, and the other inevitably damned, - has a manifest tendency to destroy holiness in general; for it wholly takes away those first motives to follow after it, so frequently proposed in Scripture, the hope of future reward and fear of punishment, the hope of heaven and fear of hell. … This doctrine tends to destroy the comfort of religion, the happiness of Christianity. … How uncomfortable a thought is this, that thousands and millions of men, without any preceding offence or fault of theirs, were unchangeably doomed to everlasting burnings! … This uncomfortable doctrine directly tends to destroy our zeal for good works. … this doctrine not only tends to destroy Christian holiness, happiness, and good works, but hath also a direct and manifest tendency to overthrow the whole Christian Revelation. … For supposing the eternal unchangeable decree, one part of mankind must be saved, though the Christian Revelation were not in being, and the other part of mankind must be damned, notwithstanding that Revelation. And what would an infidel desire more? … it is a doctrine full of blasphemy … this doctrine represents our blessed Lord, “Jesus Christ the righteous, “the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth,” as an hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity. For it cannot be denied, that he everywhere speaks as if he was willing that all men should be saved. Therefore, to say he was not willing that all men should be saved, is to represent him as a mere hypocrite and dissembler. It cannot be denied that the gracious words which came out of his mouth are full of invitations to all sinners. To say, then, he did not intend to save all sinners, is to represent him as a gross deceiver of the people. … You represent him as mocking his helpless creatures, by offering what he never intends to give. You describe him as saying one thing, and meaning another; as pretending a love which he had not. … It overturns both his justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust. … This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. On this I join issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. … This is the blasphemy for which (however I love the persons who assert it) I abhor the doctrine of predestination … Sing, O hell, and rejoice, ye that are under the earth! For God, even the mighty God, hath spoken, and devoted to death thousands of souls, from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof! Here, O death, is thy sting! They shall not, cannot escape; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Here, O grave, is thy victory! Nations yet unborn, or ever they have done good or evil, are doomed never to see the light of life, but thou shalt gnaw on them for ever and ever! (7:376-384)

Q. 74. What is the direct antidote to Methodism, the doctrine of heart-holiness? A. Calvinism: All the devices of Satan, for these fifty years, have done far less toward stopping this work of God, than that single doctrine. It strikes at the root of salvation from sin, previous to glory, putting the matter on quite another issue. … Be diligent to prevent them, and to guard these tender minds against the predestinarian poison. (8:336)

The observing these melancholy examples day by day, this dreadful havoc which the devil makes of souls, especially of those who had begun to run well, by means of this anti-scriptural doctrine, constrains me to oppose it from the same principle whereon I labour to save souls from destruction. Nor is it sufficient to ask, Are there not also many who wrest the opposite doctrine to their own destruction? If there are, that is nothing to the point in question; for that is not the case here. Here is no wresting at all: The doctrine of absolute predestination naturally leads to the chambers of death. (10:257-258)

I apprehend, then, this is no fallacious objection, but a solid and weighty one; and defy any man living, who asserts the unconditional decree of reprobation or preterition, (just the same in effect,) to reconcile this with the scriptural doctrine of a future judgment. I say again, I defy any man on earth to show, how, on this scheme, God can “judge the world in righteousness.” (10:374)

I do not believe (what is only preterition or reprobation in other words) any such absolute election, as implies that all but the absolutely elect shall inevitably be damned. I do not believe the doctrine of irresistible grace, or of infallible perseverance; because both the one and the other implies that election which cannot stand without preterition or reprobation. I do not believe salvation by works. Yet if any man can prove (what I judge none ever did, or ever will) that there is no medium between this and absolute predestination; I will rather subscribe to this than to that, as far less absurd of the two. (10:379)

If the salvation of every man that ever was, is, or shall be, finally saved, depends wholly and solely upon an absolute, irresistible, unchangeable decree of God, without any regard either to faith or works foreseen, then it is not, in any sense, by works. (11: 494)

But if such a Minister should at any time deliberately, and of set purpose, endeavour to establish absolute predestination, or to confute scriptural perfection; then I advise all the Methodists in the congregation quietly to go away. (13:246)

Speaking Peace to Heretics and Other God-Haters

Men may differ from us in their opinions, as well as their expressions, and nevertheless be partakers with us of the same precious faith. It is possible they may not have a distinct apprehension of the very blessing which they enjoy: Their ideas may not be so clear, and yet their experience may be as sound, as ours. … But still, though their opinions, as well as expressions, may be confused and inaccurate, their hearts may cleave to God through the Son of his love, and be truly interested in his righteousness. … And who that knows it can expect, suppose, a member of the Church of Rome, either to think or speak clearly on this subject? And yet, if we heard even dying Bellarmine cry out, - when he was asked, “Unto which of the saints wilt thou turn?” - Fidere meritis Christi tutissimum; “It is safest to trust in the merits of Christ;” would we have affirmed that, notwithstanding his wrong opinions, he had no share in His righteousness? … With these we may rank even in the Reformed Churches, who are usually termed Mystics. One of the chief of these, in the present century, (at least in England,) was Mr. Law. It is well known that he absolutely and zealously denied the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, as zealously as Robert Barclay, who scruples not to say, “Imputed righteousness! - imputed nonsense!” The body of the people known by the name of Quakers espouse the same sentiment. Nay, the generality of those who profess themselves members of the Church of England are either totally ignorant of the matter, and know nothing about imputed righteousness, or deny this and justification by faith together, as destructive of good works. To these we may add a considerable number of the people vulgarly styled Anabaptists, together with thousands of Presbyterians and Independents, lately enlightened by the writings of Dr. Taylor. … But will any one dare to affirm that all Mystics (such as Mr. Law in particular,) all Quakers, all Presbyterians or Independents, and all members of the Church of England who are not clear in their opinions and expressions, are void of all Christian experience? - that, consequently, they are all in a state of damnation, “without hope, without God in the world?” However confused their ideas may be, however improper their language, may there not be many of them whose heart is right toward God, and who effectually know “the Lord our righteousness?” (5:238-243)

“If you consider this, you cannot but see in what sense men may now also cast out devils. Yea, and every Minister of Christ does cast them out, if his Lord’s work prosper in his hand. By the power of God attending his word, he brings these sinners to repentance; an entire inward as well as outward change, from all evil to all good. .. But shall we not forbid one who thus “casteth out devils,” if “he followeth not us?” … Suppose, then, a man have no intercourse with us, suppose he be not of our part, suppose he separate from our Church, yea, and widely differ from us, both in judgment, practice, and affection; yet if we see even this man “casting out devils,” Jesus saith, “Forbid him not.” … “But what is a sufficient, reasonable proof, that a man does (in the sense above) cast out devils?” The answer is easy. Is there full proof, (1.) That a person before us was a gross, open sinner? (2.) That he is not so now? that he has broke off his sins, and lives a Christian life? And, (3.) That this change was wrought by his hearing this man preach? If these three points be plain and undeniable, then you have sufficient, reasonable proof, such as you cannot resist without wilful sin, that this man casts out devils. … What if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian, casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still. … In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and mission. (5:483-491)

Persons may be quite right in their opinions, and yet have no religion at all; and, on the other hand, persons may be truly religious, who hold many wrong opinions.
Can any one possibly doubt this, while there are Romanists in the world?
For who can deny, not only that many of them formerly have been truly religious, as Thomas à Kempis, Gregory Lopez, and the Marquis de Renty; but that many of them, even at this day, are real inward Christians? (6:199)

I have often doubted, whether these were not the very persons whom the rich and honourable Christians, who will always have number as well as power on their side, did not stigmatize, from time to time, with the title of heretics. … Nay, I have doubted whether that arch-heretic, Montanus, was not one of the holiest men in the second century. Yea, I would not affirm, that the arch-heretic of the fifth century, (as plentifully as he has been bespattered for many ages,) was not one of the holiest men of that age, not excepting St. Augustine himself. … I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more or less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) “go on to perfection;” or, in other words, “fulfil the law of Christ.” (6:328)

… nor do I conceive that any man living has a right to sentence all the heathen and Mahometan world to damnation. It is far better to leave them to Him that made them, and who is “the Father of the spirits of all flesh;” who is the God of the Heathens as well as the Christians, and who hateth nothing that he hath made. … I believe the merciful God regards the lives and tempers of men more than their ideas. I believe he respects the goodness of the heart, rather than the clearness of the head; and that if the heart of a man be filled (by the grace of God, and the power of his Spirit) with the humble, gentle, patient love of God and man, God will not cast him into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, because his ideas are not clear, or because his conceptions are confused. “Without holiness,” I own, “no man shall see the Lord;” but I dare not add, “or clear ideas.” (7:353-354)

Whether they embrace this religious opinion or that, is no more concern to me, than whether they embrace this or that system of astronomy. Are they brought to holy tempers and holy lives? This is mine, and should be your inquiry; since on this, both social and personal happiness depend, happiness temporal and eternal. (8:246)

[A letter to a Roman Catholic] I think you deserve the tenderest regard I can show, … were it only because the Son of God has bought you and me with his own blood. How much more if you are a person fearing God, (as without question many of you are,) and studying to have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man? … I believe that he was … born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin. … My dear friend, consider, I am not persuading you to leave or change your religion, but to follow after that fear and love of God without which all religion is vain. I say not a word to you about your opinions or outward manner of worship. … Be your form of worship what it will, but in everything give him thanks; else it is all but lost labour. Use whatever outward observances you please, but put your whole trust in him; but honor his holy name and his word, and serve him truly all the days of your life. Are we not thus far agreed? Let us thank God for this, and receive it as a fresh token of his love. … Let the points wherein we differ stand aside; here are enough wherein we agree, enough to be the ground of every Christian temper, and of every Christian action. O brethren, let us not still fall out by the way! I hope to see you in heaven. … O let you and I (whatever others do) press on to the prize of our high calling! that, being justified by faith, we may have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; that we may rejoice in God through Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement; that the love of God may be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us. (10:80-86)

As is obvious from the above quotes, John Wesley clearly put sweet for bitter and bitter for sweet; he clearly hated the truth and loved the lie. There was no subtle heresy with Wesley. He made no attempt to hide his wicked views. Truly, this wolf was not even clothed as a sheep. He was indeed a man with a consistent theology that was utterly Satanic. This is a very solemn matter, and it is made the more solemn when we realize that there were plenty of lost “Calvinists” right there with Wesley to make him feel comfortable in his Satanism. And there continue to be a host of lost “Calvinists” today who know what he believed and yet call him a Christian, showing that they do not believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ.

by Christopher Adams

Test All Things said...

John Wesley On John Wesley

In a letter to his brother Charles in June 1766, the Arminian evangelist John Wesley, now in his sixties, confesses that he does not and never did love God, believe or have the direct witness of divine sonship or even of things invisible or eternal. Read for yourself.

“In one of my last [letters] I was saying that I do not feel the wrath of God abiding on me; nor can I believe it does. And yet (this is the mystery), I do not love God. I never did. Therefore I never believed, in the Christian sense of the word. Therefore I am only an honest heathen …

And yet, to be so employed of God! And so hedged in that I can neither get forward nor backward! Surely there was never such an instance before, from the beginning of the world! If I ever have had that faith, it would not be so strange. But I never had any other evidence of the eternal or invisible world than I have now; and that is none at all, unless such as faintly shines from reason’s glimmering ray. I have no direct witness (I do not say, that I am a child of God, but) of anything invisible or eternal.”

“And yet I dare not preach otherwise than I do, either concerning faith, or love, or justification, or perfection. And yet I find rather an increase than a decrease of zeal for the whole work of God and every part of it. I am borne along, I know not how, that I can’t stand still. I want all the world to come to what I do not know.”

(quoted in Stephen Tomkins, John Wesley, A Biography [Oxford: Lion Publishing, 2003], p. 168; italics mine)